Apple Rolls Out A Revamped Store

June 21, 2016 by  
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Apple Inc announced a series of long anticipated enhancements to its App Store, but the new features may not ease concerns of developers and analysts who say that the App Store model – and the very idea of the single-purpose app – has seen its best days.

The revamped App Store will let developers advertise their wares in search results and give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps, while Apple said it has already dramatically sped up its app-approval process.

The goal is to sustain the virtuous cycle at the heart of the hugely lucrative iPhone business. Software developers make apps for the iPhone because its customers are willing to pay, and those customers, in turn, pay a premium for the device because it has the best apps.

The store is now more strategically important than ever for Apple as sales of the iPhone begin to level off and the company looks to software and services to fill the gap. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a recent conference call that App Store revenues were up 35 percent over last year.

But the store is also a victim of its own success. Eight years after its launch, it is packed with more than 1.9 million apps, according to analytics firm App Annie, making it almost impossible for developers to find an audience – and increasingly difficult for customers to find what they need, as some 14,000 new apps arrive in the store each week.

“The app space has grown out of control,” said Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the internet and now a vice president at Alphabet Inc’s Google, who was speaking at a San Francisco conference on the future of the web on Wednesday. “We need to move away from having an individual app for every individual thing you want to do.”

Courtesy-http://www.thegurureview.net/mobile-category/apple-rolls-out-a-revamped-app-store.html

Micron Announces 3D NAND Based SSDs

June 16, 2016 by  
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Micron has announced its first client- and OEM-oriented solid-state drives based on 3D NAND, the Micron 1100 and Micron 2100 series.

The Micron 1100 SSD is a more mainstream oriented SSD that will be based on Marvell’s 88SS1074 controller and Micron’s 384Gb 32-layer TLC NAND. Using a SATA 6Gbps interface and available in M.2 and 2.5-inch form-factors, the Micron 1100 should replace Micron’s mainstream M600 series, based on 16nm MLC NAND.

The Micron 1100 SSD will be available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. It will offer sequential performance of up to 530MB/s for read and up to 500MB/s for write with random 4K performance of up to 92K for read and up to 83K IOPS for write. With such performance, it is obvious that the Micron 1100 series will target mainstream market and be a budget SSD.

The Micron 2100 is an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD that is actually Micron’s first client oriented PCIe SSD and also the first PCIe SSD based on 3D NAND. Unfortuantely, Micron did not finalize the precise specifications so we still do not have precise performance numbers but it will be available in capacities reaching 1TB.

The Micron 1100 is expected to hit mass production in July so we should expect some of the first drives by the end of the next month. The Micron 2100 will be coming by the end of summer.

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MediaTek To Spin-Off Virtual Reality Unit

June 7, 2016 by  
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MediaTek is so confident about its VR plans it is going to spin off its VR division to form an independent company in June.

A recent Chinese-language Economic Daily News report claims that Mediatek wants the spun off business to drive VR sales. It all sounds pretty good but MediaTek have sort of denied the report.

Well we say sort of denied it. What it has told the Taiwan Stock Exchange  that it was not the report’s source, which is not quite the same thing.The spin off could go ahead, but MediaTek is denying that it told the EDN its cunning plans. But then again the EDN did not name its source either. Without a denial from the company we are none the wiser.

MediaTek’s VR unit was set up between end-2015 and early-2016 to focus on the development of the company’s VR solutions for handsets, the EDN thought.

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Are Tablets Dead?

May 11, 2016 by  
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There more evidence that tablets were never the game-changer that Steve Jobs tried to peddle them as, and were just the keyboardless netbooks we said they were.

IDC siad that for the first quarter of 2016, overall worldwide tablet shipments fell to 39.6 million, a 14.7 percent drop from the same period a year ago,  However the only part of the segment which did ok were tablets with keyboards – or as we used to call them, netbooks.

IDC said that the decline of ordinary tablets was partly due to traditional first-quarter slumps but also a complete lack of interest on the part of customers.

Traditional tablets accounted for 87.6 percent of all tablet shipments. But tablets that come with detachable keyboards increased of more than 4.9 million units last quarter. That was a gain of 120 percent from the same period last year and an all-time high for tablets with detachable keyboards.

Tablets are dying because more people are buying big-screened phones as an alternative. You remember Fablets? They were what Steve Jobs claimed would never work because they prefered smaller smartphones or bigger tablets. In fact he was talking rubbish and was trying to keep his keyboardless netbook idea going.

IDC said that the newer tablets don’t offer enough new features to entice people to upgrade. After all tablets were always looking for an app which made them useful, which never arrived.

To counteract the downturn, more manufacturers are turning to tablets with detachable keyboards that can thus serve as laptops – on otherwords returning to the netbooks that the Tablets were said to replace.

“With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables,” IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement.

Apple saw its shipments and market share drop but remained in first place. Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the new 256GB storage option for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are “healthy additions” to the lineup, IDC said. Samsung also saw its shipments and market share decline. Though the Samsung Galaxy Tab lineup is still popular, its detachable TabPro S is dead in the water thanks to its $900 price tag.

Amazon has found success with its starting-at-$49 Fire, showing that consumers will still buy bargain-priced tablets. Missing from the list was Microsoft in spite of the popularity of its Surface Pro products, which start at $900.

IDC said:

“The Surface line is great. But it’s tough to drive volume in the first quarter. Prices of Surface products are fairly high, but Microsoft is in the top five list for tablets with detachable keyboards. The top five for tablets as a whole is a tougher nut to crack given the large slate volumes compared to detachables.”

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Will HMB 2.0 GPUs Show Up This Year?

April 29, 2016 by  
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Our well-placed industry sources have told us that we should not expect to see the HMB 2.0 based GPUs shipping anytime soon. Nvidia Pascal and AMD Polaris 10 / 11 will stick with GDDR5 memory for the time being.

The 2nd generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM 2.0) for high-end GPUs might happen in very late Q4 2016 but realistically it probably won’t ship until 2017 in any volume.

The first card that we expect supporting this feature might be the Greenland, a card that AMD might end up calling Vega. Even according Radeon Technology Group’s official GPU roadmap, Vega / Greenland now look like a 2017 product, or at very best, late 2016 card. Nvidia might make the HBM 2.0 version of the Titan card, but we don’t expect to see a Geforce GTX based on Pascal GPU and HBM 2.0 coming to the market this year.

We managed to talk to some of the memory manufactures and they told us that HBM 2.0 is very limited in supply, and limited supply makes things expensive.

It seems that GPUs of 2016, including the new AMD Polaris and the new Geforce, will be stuck with GDDR5 and in best case scenario with GDDR5X from Micron. The word on the street is that both Geforce GTX based on Pascal and AMD/RTG’s Polaris 10 / Ellesmere and Polaris 11 / Baffin might launch at Computex during last days of May or early June 2016.

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Samsung Shows Off The BGA SSD

April 4, 2016 by  
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During Samsung’s 2016 SSD Forum in Japan, the company took the wraps off its first ever ball-grid array (BGA) solid state disk for mobile devices, the PM971. This particular SSD aims to replace module-based M.2 drives in the 2-in-1 hybrid PC market. The company is claiming it will offer improved thermals, up to 10-percent more battery life and a reduction in vertical storage height for OEMs, product designers and system manufacturers.

The Samsung PM971 built using the company’s Photon controller and runs MLC 3D V-NAND (contrary to the picture above, PC Watch claims it is actually 3-bits per cell). The drive will be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage capacities and will feature sequential reads up to 1,500MB/s, sequential writes up to 600MB/s, random reads up to 190,000 IOPS and random writes up to 150,000 IOPS.In general, SSDs with BGA packaging are considerably smaller than those using the M.2 form factor, and Intel has claimed that using a PCI-E BGA SSD could allow an increase in battery size by around 10-percent compared to using an M.2 2260 SSD (with GPIO using 1.8v power rail instead of 3.3v), lower thermals than M.2 (from BGA ball conduction to motherboard instead of through M.2 mounting screws), and a vertical height savings of 0.5mm to 1.5mm in notebook devices.

The nice thing about BGA SSDs is that they are “complete” storage solutions and integrate NAND flash memory, the NAND controller and DRAM all into a single package. Currently, there are several BGA M.2 form factors being proposed that will make single-chip SSDs a reality sooner than later as the result of a collaboration between HP, Intel, Lenovo, Micron, SanDisk, Seagate and Toshiba. The four BGA SSD packages proposed are Type 1620, Type 2024, Type 2228 and Type 2828, ranging anywhere between 16 x 20 millimeters and 28 x 28 millimeters with up to 2-millimeter vertical height. It is currently unknown whether the Samsung PM971 adopts any of these proposed BGA M.2 standards.

Based on the demonstration at the 2016 Samsung SSD Forum in Japan, the PM971 offers decent performance thanks to a PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface and the company’s new Photon controller. According to the PC Watch website, the drive is physically smaller than an SD card and Samsung expects device manufacturers and OEMs to begin adoption in the second half of 2016 or the first half of 2017.

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Will Razer’s External Graphics Box Fail?

March 30, 2016 by  
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We first saw the Razer Core, an external graphics box that connects to a notebook via Thunderbolt 3 port, back at CES 2016 in January, and today, Razer has finally unveiled a bit more details including the price, availability date and compatibility details.

At the GDC 2016 show in San Francisco, Razer has announced that the Core will be ready in April and have a price of US $499. As expected, it has been only validated on Razer Blade Stealth and the newly introduced Razer Blade 2016 Edition notebooks but as it uses Thunderbolt 3 interface, it should be compatible with any other notebook, as long as manufacturer wants it.

With dimensions set at 105 x 353 x 220mm, the Razer Core is reasonably portable. It comes with a 500W PSU and features four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and Thunderbolt 3 port which is used to connect it to a notebook.

As far as graphics cards support is concerned, Razer says that the Core will work with any AMD Radeon graphics card since Radeon 290 series, including the latest R9 Fury, R9 Nano and Radeon 300 series, as well as pretty much all Nvidia Maxwell GPU based graphics cards since Geforce GTX 750/750 Ti, although we are not sure why would you pair up a US $500 priced box with a US $130 priced graphics cards. The maximum TDP for the graphics card is set at 375W, which means that all dual-GPU solutions are out of the picture, so it will go as far as R9 Fury X or the GTX Titan X.

There aren’t many notebooks that feature a Thunderbolt 3 ports and we have heard before that Thunderbolt 3 might have certain issues with latency, which is probably why other manufacturers like MSI and Alienware, went on with their own proprietary connectors. Of course, Razer probably did the math but we will surely keep a closer eye on it when it ships in April. Both AMD and Nvidia are tweaking their drivers and already have support for external graphics, so it probably will not matter which graphics card you pick.

According to Razer, the Razer Core will be available in April and priced at US $499. Razer is already started taking pre-orders for the Razer Core and offers a US $100 discount in case you buy it with one of their notebooks, Razer Blade 2016 or Blade Stealth.

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MediaTek Shows Off The Helio X25 Chip

March 28, 2016 by  
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MediaTek has told Fudzilla that the Helio X25 SoC is not only real, but that it is a “turbo” version of the Helio X20.

Meizu is expected to be one of the first companies to use the X25. Last year it was also the first to use MTK 6795T for its Meizu MX5 phone. In that case the “T” suffix stood for Turbo. This phone was 200 MHz faster than the standard Helio X10 “non T” version.

In 2016 is that MediaTek decided to use the new Helio X25 name because of a commercial arrangement. MediaTek didn’t mention any of the partners, but confirmed that the CPU and GPU will be faster. They did not mention specific clock speeds. Below is a diagram of the Helio X20, and we assume that the first “eXtreme performance” cluster will get a frequency boost, as well as the GPU.

The Helio X25 will not have any architectural changes, it is just a faster version of X20, just like MTK 6795T was faster version of MTK 6795. According to the company, the Helio X25 will be available in May.

This three cluster Helio X25 SoC has real potential and should be one of the most advanced mobile solutions when it hits the market.The first leaked scores of the Helio X20 suggest great performance, but the X25 should have even better scores. There should be a dozen design wins with Helio X20/ X25 and most of them are yet to be announced. There should be a few announcements for the Helio X25 soon, but at least we do know that now there will be a even faster version of three cluster processor.

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Is The GPU Market Going Down?

March 25, 2016 by  
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The global GPU market has fallen by 20 per cent over the last year.

According to Digitimes it fell to less than 30 million units in 2015 and the outfit suffering most was  AMD. The largest graphics card player Palit Microsystems, which has several brands including Palit and Galaxy, shipped 6.9-7.1 million graphics cards in 2015, down 10 per cent  on year. Asustek Computer shipped 4.5-4.7 million units in 2015, while Colorful shipped 3.9-4.1 million units, and is aiming to raise its shipments by 10 per cent  on year in 2016.

Micro-Star International (MSI) enjoyed healthy graphics card shipments at 3.45-3.55 million in 2015, up 15 per cent  on year, and EVGA, which has tight partnerships with Nvidia, also saw a significant shipment growth, while Gigabyte suffered from a slight drop on year. Sapphire and PowerColor suffered dramatic drops in shipments in 2015.

There are fears that several of the smaller GPU makers could be forced out of the market after AMD gets its act together with the arrival of Zen and Nvidia’s next-generation GPU architectures launch later in 2016.

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iOS Developers Warned About Taking Shortcuts

February 10, 2016 by  
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Slapdash developers have been advised not to use the open source JSPatch method of updating their wares because it is as vulnerable as a soft boiled egg, for various reasons.

It’s FireEye that is giving JSPatch the stink eye and providing the warning that it has rendered over 1,000 applications open to copy and paste theft of photos and other information. And it doesn’t end there.

FireEye’s report said that Remote Hot Patching may sound like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t. It is so widely used that is has opened up a 1,220-wide iOS application hole in Apple users’ security. A better option, according to the security firm, is to stick with the Apple method, which should provide adequate and timely protection.

“Within the realm of Apple-provided technologies, the way to remediate this situation is to rebuild the application with updated code to fix the bug and submit the newly built app to the App Store for approval,” said FireEye.

“While the review process for updated apps often takes less time than the initial submission review, the process can still be time-consuming and unpredictable, and can cause loss of business if app fixes are not delivered in a timely and controlled manner.

“However, if the original app is embedded with the JSPatch engine, its behaviour can be changed according to the JavaScript code loaded at runtime. This JavaScript file is remotely controlled by the app developer. It is delivered to the app through network communication.”

Let’s not all make this JSPatch’s problem, because presumably it’s developers who are lacking.

FireEye spoke up for the open source security gear while looking down its nose at hackers. “JSPatch is a boon to iOS developers. In the right hands, it can be used to quickly and effectively deploy patches and code updates. But in a non-utopian world like ours, we need to assume that bad actors will leverage this technology for unintended purposes,” the firm said.

“Specifically, if an attacker is able to tamper with the content of a JavaScript file that is eventually loaded by the app, a range of attacks can be successfully performed against an App Store application.

Courteys-TheInq